relentless pursuit of greatness Thomas Williams

The Relentless Pursuit of Greatness with former NFL Pro Thomas Williams

Today we have a treat for you. We’re interviewing former pro football player Thomas Williams who’s played for the Jaguars, the Seahawks, the Patriots, the Bills, and the Panthers. Listen as he takes us from overcoming his troubled childhood, to achieving his NFL dream, to using a career-ending injury as the jump-off point to the relentless pursuit of greatness.

Thomas Williams

Thomas struggled through a childhood of adversity. He was born to a white mother and a black father who split up when he was little and moved to opposite sides of the country. Thomas lived in a small town called Vacaville, CA with his mother. As a child he had a build up of anger and, being biracial he struggled with identity issues. He got into fights with other kids and was always getting into trouble at school.

What Thomas remembers most was thinking, why isn’t my dad here? He felt alone, hurt, and angry. He saw all the other kids with their dads and felt resentful. He took his frustration out on his teachers and schoolmates.

At the end of first grade, he got suspended. His mom said she  couldn’t take it anymore. Thomas still regrets what he said to her that day. He told her he didn’t love her and that he wanted to go live with his dad.

Thomas got what he wished for and went to live with his dad for a whole year. He expected to do all the father/son stuff–going to games, playing catch, and spending time together. The reality was altogether different. His dad was still in the military and spent little time at home. On most days, Thomas had to let himself in the house after school and cook and clean for himself. He was also exposed to alcohol abuse, gambling, and fornication at an extremely young age. His dad’s idea of fatherly instruction was to sit down with Thomas when he was in 2nd grade and watch Boyz n the Hood. The portrayal of the father and son in the movie was his indirect message to Thomas of what he expected their relationship to be like.

Thomas asked to move back to live with his mother by his 3rd grade year. He was never so apologetic. However, after the experience of living with his father and being exposed to such an unhealthy adult way of life, he noticed he was much more mature than his peers. He felt isolated and started getting into fights and into trouble again.

After he realized how truly frightened his mom was about his future, Thomas finally made the decision to change in the 6th grade and began a transformation into a more positive mindset. This allowed him to pursue his new dream, which was to be on a field with people filling the stadiums to see him play. His mom was doubtful that he could make it. Not many people succeed in professional sports, but he didn’t let her discourage him. He gave himself permission to dream, and he worked until that dream came true.

Football Career

Thomas gave everything he had to make it to pro football, but when asked what it was like to make it to the NFL he says:

It’s everything you can possibly imagine and less.

He found it unfulfilling compared to his expectations. He had the money and the status. He was living the dream, but like when he was able to move to his dad’s, the reality of the situation was entirely different. He had become a man by surmounting obstacles to reach his goals. Because of the determination and toughness he developed, he knew he couldn’t fail no matter the outcome. He realized that the journey was what was important, not the destination.

Don’t do things for the outcome. Do things because that’s who you are.

Thomas continued to push himself in his performance before suffering a severe neck injury that ended his football career for good. That night, he went to bed as a professional athlete, and the next morning, woke up as a former professional athlete. He was only 29 years old.

This didn’t stop him at all. Thomas knew he lived a hell of a life already, and he knew it was time to transform yet again. He wanted to share his story and show others that they can achieve their dreams no matter how big they are. It was this passion that gave him the platform to his purpose. Now he is a coach, a motivational speaker, and the author of two books.

Thomas Williams Dad Wisdom

Thomas isn’t a dad yet. He’s not even a husband yet, but he watches and learns from all those around him. He believes the most important thing to teach his future kids is that it’s okay to be themselves.


Did you catch all our episodes with the Navy SEALs? Click here.


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Aaron Walker

Working to Live, Not Living to Work with Aaron Walker

Can we live a life of purpose and still make a living to support our families? Can we do the work that we love and still be profitable? The answer is absolutely YES, and Aaron Walker from View from the Top is here to tell us how.

Aaron Walker

This is Aaron Walker’s second time on the Good Dad Project. You may remember his awesome episode The Ultimate Guide to Work/Life Balance way back in November 2015. For those of you who don’t know, Aaron Walker is a hugely successful businessman and life coach who has inspired many through his leadership, mentorship, and consistent pursuit of excellence. He enjoys helping others and believes experience is a great teacher.

Aaron values his time spent with family and friends. Sharing the past 36 years with his lovely wife Robin has been nothing short of spectacular. His two fantastic daughters and champion son-in-law have given Aaron & Robin five beautiful grandchildren. When time allows, Aaron enjoys hunting, fishing, golf, and is an avid reader.

Aaron Walker grew up in a dirt-poor family. They lived in a $6,500 house, which they eventually lost to bankruptcy when alcoholism took over his father’s life. His parents would fight about drinking, and to this day, Aaron despises alcohol. His mother gave his father an ultimatum: either quit or she and the kids would leave. Aaron said his father loved his family more than drinking. This helped his father to quit and turn the family around. Aaron says his dad was his best friend, and they hunted and fished together every day of his life. Still, Aaron wanted to make more of himself, and he did. He was so successful, he retired three times.


Aaron admits that even he gets down and depressed. This is why we all need to have people around to encourage us and help us up. Sometimes we need people to slow us down. Sometimes we need people to speed us up. We need wise counsel. This is why Aaron has been doing mastermind groups for 20 years.

Isolation is the enemy of excellence.


Aaron says that being positive is a choice. You can choose to be optimistic about circumstances, or pessimistic. You can lead a life of significance, or a life of ambition. Aaron knows from experience that chasing material things won’t satisfy you like you think it will. What matters most is people.

We work to live, we don’t live to work.

Build Boundaries

Aaron sets strict boundaries to make sure his life stays on track. He doesn’t allow women to connect with him on social media. He doesn’t get into a car or dine alone with women. This is a foolproof way to keep his marriage safe, but these boundaries need to be set in all areas of your life. What do you value the most? What do you wish to protect at all costs?

Whatever those boundaries are for you, set them.

Source of Energy

Joy and enthusiasm come through Aaron’s voice whenever he speaks. Aaron has a deep faith in God and he says he draws his energy from his worship. He reads scripture every day and is highly involved in church activities.

Aaron also suggests the following tips to protect your energy levels:

  • Make time to read.
  • Stop watching news, it’s not healthy.
  • Listen to music, blogs, podcasts, Ted Talks.
  • Choose what you put in your mind.
  • Choose the people you spend time with. Are they positive influences?
  • Choose who your kids are around.
  • Choose the mindset to set yourself free.

Dad Wisdom

One of the most important boundaries we as dads can set is to not allow anything to intrude on our time with our kids. Most dads get home and think they should use that time to send ten more emails, or call five extra clients. Aaron says to turn it off.

Don’t’ squander your kids’ time growing up.


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no barriers

How to Live Life with No Barriers with Erik Weihenmayer

Defying the odds, overcoming adversity and summiting the top of Mount Everest as a blind person – you do not want to miss today’s episode on how to live life with No Barriers with Erik Weihenmayer.

Erik Weihenmayer is an American athlete, adventurer, author, activist and motivational speaker, and the only blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

Erik was affected by a rare genetic disease called retinoschisis. He went completely blind a week before his Freshman year in high school, a difficult age even for sighted kids. He remembers having to be lead into school as a newly blind person. It was a sad time. He sat by himself in the cafeteria and heard all the excitement and joy of kids around him. He knew he didn’t want to be sitting at a table by himself listening to life go by. He wanted to be in the action.

But Erik’s first reaction to going blind was anger, frustration, blaming, and lashing out. He fell off docks and slammed into walls. With support from his family and friends, he got got through it. He realized he needed to find his own way and had to decide what he feared most – fear of living inside a prison vs. fear of getting out.

Erik chose to take the road that had potential to lead him out of the darkness. He found blind friends who went rock climbing. He learned to use his hands and feet as his eyes. He learned to read Braille and use a cane, and this led him back to the world. Through his struggles, Erik realized that the fun of life is discovering your own way forward.


You’re not going to do it like the next person. Challenges bring new discoveries.


Erik found his own way of doing things as a blind man, and achieved his dream of climbing Mount Everest. It’s unbelievable that eighteen years before, he couldn’t even find the bathroom by himself.


What within us is stronger than what’s in our way.


Having a Rope Team

One of the most important elements of mountaineering is having a rope team. Erik says men also need to have a rope team for daily life. We all need help to do the great things we need to do.

Erik says life for men without rope team is lonely and brutal. He tells the tragic story of his brother who died from complications due to alcoholism. His brother was a great person, but he wouldn’t let anyone in. Not accepting help from others leads to a short and unhappy life. We’re all in the same boat, reaching to overcome obstacles, and having a support system is crucial.

On Fatherhood

Erik has two teenagers and admits that climbing Everest doesn’t make him a cooler dad in their eyes. In his family, they try to get back to the basics. When his kids were little, he always got down on the floor and played with them. Now that his kids are teenagers, they sit at the table together. Erik makes sure they’re not just talking at each other, but being open and listening. I’m here for you always, he tells his kids a lot, and tries to demonstrate that same message through his actions.

The family also gets away as much as they can. They do summer trips together in the wilderness and on the white water. Erik says they each push themselves in different ways and experience the learning process together.

During breaks, they talk about their adventures, the ups and downs, and the triumphs. Erik believes that the outdoors is the richest laboratory for parenting his kids. They get a chance to step away from all the high-tech stuff and immerse themselves in the creative process.

Live Life with No Barriers

It’s in our nature to avoid failure, to shy away from risk and fear. Sitting around, watching TV, and eating pizza is much easier. It’s safe. It’s comfortable, but it’s not living life to the fullest.

Erik says as parents, we must sweep our children out into the world. They will get broken, and it will be hard. They’ll get bombarded. Sometimes a blow or setback makes a direct strike. At this point, Erik tries to get his kids to stretch their barriers. They will have to decide if they are going to shrink in retreat, or use the challenge to get bigger and better. They practice taking adversity, using it as fuel, and converting into light.

Erik Weihenmayer’s Dad Wisdom

Erik keeps an open heart policy in his household. He had to figure out how to make himself vulnerable and lean into bad experiences. He teaches his kids to do the same.

He also makes sure his kids understand that their dreams are credible and that their thoughts matter. Let them know they have inside what it takes to blaze into the world.

Erik’s last piece of dad advice is to send kids over the fence and into the wilderness. Give them unsupervised, unstructured time outdoors. The creativity they develop will lead to pioneering spirit that will take them through the adventure of life.


Referenced Episode: How to Teach Our Kids to Win at Losing with Sam Weinman



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overcoming adversity

How Overcoming Adversity Can Make You a Better Dad with Nick Dinardo

Nick Dinardo draws on adversity to inform and inspire his life as a podcaster, personal performance coach, author, and dad.

Nick Dinardo is an entrepreneur, a consultant, and a public speaker who focuses on resilience, personal growth, and education. Nick is the author of bestselling book The Game of Adversity: 8 Practices to Turn Life’s Toughest Moments into Your Greatest Opportunities. He is also the host of The Sweet Adversity Podcast and has interviewed hundreds of experts on overcoming adversity, dealing with trauma and stress, and the critical role it plays in our cognitive development.

Nick has dealt with adversity his entire life. At the age of seven, his family went from the American dream to a foreclosed home, divorce, and mental illness. He spent a year sleeping on the floor in a one room apartment where his family shared a kitchen with seventeen other families.

Nick had a great dad, but was angry at his father for not understanding his mom and her mental illness. He still hoped and dreamed his parents would fall in love again, but that never happened. They moved from place to place until his mom got her life back together. During this disruptive time, Nick turned to sports for role models of those who went through hard times and still became great, successful people.

Sports is a microcosm of life

Nick Dinardo’s book, The Game of Adversity, uses sports as a Trojan horse to explore the psychological aspects of adversity and how high performers focus on process, not outcome. Coaches like John Wooden and Bill Belichick implemented this idea in their methods. Wooden made his players adhere to a very strict routine and told them not to think about basketball outside of practice. Belichick didn’t care about the score so much as he did about the team and their cognitive skill development. If the players prepared through the process, the win would come without consciously focusing on the goal.

Focusing on goals can make us unhappy

Goals are anti-presence because you’re focused on the end instead of what’s going on right in front of you. You can’t enjoy the moment because you’re always looking to the future, but you can establish a new norm for yourself and stop waiting till you reach any of your goals to be happy.

We have a choice

Men have evolved to be very results-focused, and we feel like a failure when we don’t achieve our goals. This creates stress and our response effects our cortisol levels, which effects our sleep and the function of our bodies. It triggers a chain reaction that goes all the way into how we treat people and how we approach our day.

Fighting our natural instincts to relentlessly push for our goals is tough, but when faced with a stressful situation, we can actually train ourselves how to respond in a positive proactive way instead of a negative reactive way.

Kids overcoming adversity

Nick says what’s important for kids to overcome extreme adversity is a positive relationship with one adult. Despite the hardship his family went through when he was young, he had a solid social circle of caring adults that acted as a foundation of strength.

Dad wisdom after a childhood of adversity

Nick Dinardo is the new dad of a 5-month-old boy. When Nick thinks about the things his father did for him, one thing stands out. It comes down to love. He remembers his dad always gave him hugs in kisses, even in front of his friends. His dad always told him he loved him multiple times a day. Nick says not to worry about the parenting books and the latest trends. When it comes to being a good dad, all things fall into place from love.


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Get a free chapter from: THE DAD’S EDGE on UNLIMITED PATIENCE HERE

Check out this free resource on: CONNECTION WITH YOUR SPOUSE

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Connect with Nick Dinardo

FREE gift for GDP listeners! Click here for your Adversity Toolbox.

Website –

Amazon – The Game of Adversity: 8 Practices To Turn Life’s Toughest Moments Into Your Greatest Opportunities

The Sweet Adversity Podcast